By Paul Hagan
Research has repeatedly found that first impressions matter in business. A lot. According to Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and researcher at Harvard Business School, 80-90 percent of first impressions are made up of split-second evaluations of how trustworthy and competent a person is.1
In just seven seconds, a prospect’s perception of you can be set—if not in stone, in quick-drying cement. So how do you tailor these impressions? Dress you and your employees for success!
1. Be consistent. A survey by J.D. Power and Associates found that 75 percent of consumers prefer an employee in uniform and easily recognized. Get crisp, clean uniforms delivered by a professional uniform service.
2. Spit and polish. Taking care in refining your appearance is key. In a couple studies, it’s been found that even minor differences in outfits – as simple as the fit – can influence someone’s snap judgment about you.
3. Wait until you see the whites of their eyes. A little eye contact goes a long way. Researchers have found that looking someone in the eyes promotes trust, while avoiding eye contact promotes distrust.2
4. Stay hands on. University of Illinois researchers found that the brain actually exhibits positive reactions to handshakes, increasing the chances of a positive interaction.3 Just don’t forget the hand sanitizer.
5. Utilize the Red Sneaker Effect. You don’t need to meet every expectation. A number of studies conclude that defying appearance expectations in small ways, sometimes referred to as the Red Sneakers Effect, can lead to others assuming competence.4 If you want to go for red sneakers, sneaker stores are a great place to start.
6. Exhibit bespoke behavior. That old adage about dressing for the job you want isn’t just about how people perceive you, but how your employees perceive themselves. Based on research published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, what you wear can translate into better, clearer thinking.5 Are your employees tailored for their roles?
7. Do the safety dance. Extend that theme to how safe your operations are. The right safety equipment can show people in a heartbeat that you care about health and security above all else.
You may not be able to directly influence every interaction customers have with your employees, but a few key business decisions can improve your chance of success. Like the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.